Settling back in
In many ways, coming back to Durban, to Westville, to the COPT, to Bethel, felt like coming home. At the same time, it all felt different. Same place, some of the same people, but lots of new faces and names, a new church and community centre building at Clermont, new team of volunteers, and a new bedroom!
To be honest, it took me longer to settle in than I had anticipated. I missed my family (still do) thing had changed, and I’m trying not to think of things as ‘my projects’ just because I was involved in setting some of them up 5 years ago! It’s unrealistic to think you can just pick up where you left off.
Setting up a regular group time to do the readings – for those that wanted to – was my first ‘project’. It was a throwback to our ‘scheduled spiritual spontaneity’ from 2010. Such a great start to the day!
There have also been the reminders of what life is like as a volunteer … the things I had conveniently put out of my mind … looking back with rose-tinted glasses at 2009-2011! Issues that come up and need attention, like rape, robbery, xenophobic riots and death, alongside much more minor inconveniences like regular power-outages and an inconsistent and slow internet service! Some weeks seem like it’s all fun, and other weeks are fraught with emotional issues and problems. It’s made easier being part of a team who understand the issues you are each going through, and also knowing ultimately, it’s all in God’s hands anyway, and we know He knows best and will work everything out. So comforting.
However, now 2 months in … I have some regular projects, I’m building new relationships and renewing old friendships, and feeling much more settled.
I teach the senior Clermont Sunday School class … we are discussing Genesis at the moment, and have just been focusing on the Promises to Abraham. Last Sunday, we were a teacher short, so we had a combined class and talked a bit about Sarah. Then we made Mother’s Day cards.
I teach English classes in Clermont and Lamontville, and a weekly Bible lesson at Happy’s, which follows the same programme as Clermont Sunday School to make life a little easier! Together with Josh, we run a junior and a senior youth group at Clermont, Mdu teaches the little ones in Zulu, we are looking at Daniel, and with the older group we are working through Jesus’ parables.
We also go to Happy’s twice a week to help with Occupational Therapy sessions. Although I am not an Occupational therapist, one of the volunteers (Eloise) who was here a few weeks ago, was training in OT … she encouraged me to work on fine motor skills. So we do activities like cutting, sticking, writing and playing. I love it. This is Noncebo, threading pipe cleaners through colander holes!
I’m about to re-start Lamontville Youth group and some kind of Gogo’s (grannies) coffee/Bible time class at Clermont. As a group, we ran some holiday clubs over the Easter holidays, and organised a youth day. It was great fun, and also a little bit exhausting! We had Bible stories (with fantastic set design from Rachel Johnson), craft and sports activities, music and food.
Over the last 2 weeks we have had the unexpected opportunity to help out at the Red Cross. Sadly this is due to the xenophobic violence and rioting across Durban, but we have used the opportunity to do something to help. We have been sorting donations and raising awareness, and I have really enjoyed it. Our projects were halted for a couple of days when it wasn’t particularly safe to head into Durban or the townships – and we wanted to do something. I’ve learned a lot about donations and generosity. A while ago, I read an article which basically said: if you are going to donate to people – don’t just give them your rubbish. Having seen a huge outpouring of generosity and giving from many of the people of Durban, I realise how true it is!
If you don’t want your broken toys, badly stained clothes or out-of-date food, why would someone else?
Yes, they may be in need … but as disciples of Christ, we should always give our best … in everything we do. Obviously some can’t afford to give much, but in my opinion a can of beans is of more use than a jigsaw with missing pieces! And we can all give time for the most important thing: a prayer.
The people buying toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary products and new blankets, have inspired me to be more thoughtful in my future donations. As have others (like Bethel members) who have given cash to be used for the non-glamourous but necessary items, like gas to cook the food, and petrol to transport supplies, and any other costs arising out of providing this emergency shelter and support.
Working behind the scenes is sometimes back-breaking and unrecognised work. It’s not the ‘front-line’, but it is still help, perhaps with less recognition and acknowledgement. However, it’s just as important, and we know our works should be done out of love, humbly and not in public to gain acknowledgement.
I have also been doing #100daysofhappy, which has been great. Taking a picture of something that makes me happy each day ensures I stop and take pictures, and it reminds me to look for the positives, there are things to be grateful for every day, no matter how dark that day may seem. God’s mercies are new every morning.